The Writer's Corner
The Battle Within A Young Gun
Written by Frank Charles aka weinerdawgy
Three — Ready, Aim, Fire!
Practice went on as planned during the next few days. William
Brighton practiced with the men and equipment to make sure
everything was safe and in the best of condition. John Browning
came to the range every day. He spoke with the public, along
with the others, and took a few rifle orders while he was at it.
Each day brought more interest and practice became more like a
show. Members of the public took part in attempting the coin and
card shots. The marshal would stop by several times a day and
show off. This was some of the best public relations he ever
had. John realized that the practice sessions had a good bit of
value. He hoped that other towns would have similar facilities
to gain this kind of exposure. He realized that they were going
to need a good salesman to work along with the marksman when the
demonstrations hit the road. He figured he could be at some of
the larger events, but he and William had many other things to
do at the factory.
On Friday, things were pretty well set. They used some shot
glasses for the quick draw and toss as well as the copper coins.
Most of the coins were given out to the onlookers and to the few
who were able to hit one. Will was careful not to throw his arm
out by giving others a chance to do the work, except when the
marksmen were performing. Bat and Lucas had both mastered the
sideways card trick at fifty feet. William Brighton discussed
the possibility of his being part of the show with his boss and
he was glad to give his approval. All John asked was that he
didn’t show up the others and get any ideas about running away
to join the circus! William assured him that he had no desire to
resume his former career, but that since he was here and having
so much fun, it was only natural that he should enjoy some
recreational shooting. John knew better than to deny his right
hand man such a pleasure.
Jack was in the crowd each day paying close attention to what
everyone was up to. His original thought was to disrupt the
event on Sunday by shooting some of the targets from afar. But
as he contemplated that act, he realized there was going to be a
large crowd and he didn’t want to hurt anyone. All he wanted to
do was cause enough trouble to ruin the day and maybe the show’s
future plans. It was also a good chance that there would be some
people at the church as the show was scheduled for one hour
after services were usually held. He studied other buildings
nearby, but almost all of them had flat topped roofs or tile
with nowhere to hide. The fact of the matter was there were just
too many deputies and men with guns to try anything risky. His
cold feet brought out the coward in him and he decided to think
of something else.
As practice came to a close on Friday afternoon, Jack was still
at the range trying to act natural. After all of this time,
nobody ever as much said a word to him. He was intrigued by his
ability to go unnoticed. He was also tired of sleeping out in
the mountains. He decided to stay in town for the night, his
camp and second horse would be alright. He left plenty of water
and there was nobody around for the entire time he had been
Saturday was a day of rest. Bat, John, and William took part in
setting up the show targets. Lucas rode out with Aubry to have a
look at her ranch. Sam and Micah woke late and made their way to
the show site after eating. Will and Ann decided to give Spirit
and Flash a workout ride around the outskirts of town. The
horses were anxious and wanted to run. As they went along the
road they saw many groups of travelers heading toward town. It
got downright crowded at some points. This made them decide to
head up a side road into the foothills. It was a perfect day,
cool and dry. They continued on until they came to a meadow. Ann
packed a couple of sandwiches from a shop in town and surprised
Will with a bottle of fine wine. They stayed there for over an
hour entertained by the sounds of the wind in the trees. The
horses grazed on what little thin winter grass was still poking
up through the dry leaves and weeds. Flash was given to
wandering and Spirit followed along as they got near the edge of
the meadow. Finally, Ann looked up to see the horses meander
into the trees. Will got up and walked briskly toward the
Ann did also and walked a little behind him. They could no
longer see the stallions and they were getting just a bit
Spirit was trained to return to Will’s whistle and when he
didn’t come running he knew something was wrong. Ann thought she
had seen Flash just off to the right into the trees and ran to
catch him. Will was becoming more concerned and ran further
ahead, still not able to see or hear Spirit. How could he be so
stupid? Now, Will and Ann were split up and the horses could not
be found. Will went further into the trees looking for hoof
prints. This was ridiculous! He yelled out to Ann and she yelled
back but was too far to understand what she said. For some
reason, the horses took much different paths.
After what seemed like an eternity, Will thought he heard
something and walked toward the noise. Off into the trees he saw
Spirit’s tail whipping around. As he came upon him it was
obvious that he was tied to a tree. He ran up close, then took
his time before coming into the open to check on his horse. He
didn’t see anyone and then he realized that he didn’t have his
gun. The rifle was still in the holster on Spirit so he decided
to make a move for it. He ran up to the horse and grabbed the
rifle. He cocked the lever to find no bullets. Before he could
turn around, he felt the pressure of a gun barrel in his back.
It was Jack!
Will whirled around and tried to grab the gun, but Jack stepped
back and pushed Will to the ground in the direction of his
“That’s enough Fulton! Stay down or I’ll let you have it!”
“What on earth are you doing Jack? You won’t get away with
“That’s what you think. There’s nobody around here but you and
Ann. I followed you two out here the whole way. Everyone is
concerned with the show in town. It will be hours before you’re
“When I get loose Jack, I’m going to make you pay!”
“Enough! Now roll over on your face and put your arms behind you
in the air.” Jack tied Will up and gagged him, sitting him
against a tree looking across at his horse.
“Now, I’ll go to find Ann. Then we can all take a ride into the
hills. We can spend a lovely weekend together around a campfire.
I’m sure there’s plenty of stories we can share!
“The glare in Fulton’s eyes gave Jack a shiver down his spine.
He was bold enough to pull this desperate plan off, but he knew
this would be it. He couldn’t allow either of them to get to him
now. He ran off into the woods in the direction he had last
heard Ann’s voice.
Will sat there helpless realizing the awful reality of his
carelessness. If he didn’t get himself out of this predicament,
the show would be over for good. He struggled and tried to roll
around to free himself to no avail. Jack had lassoed too many
calves to do a sloppy job with the rope. The gag was starting to
hurt his jaw and he chewed at it as best he could. Finally, he
managed to feel a sharp area on the bark of the tree. He rubbed
his hands against it, working into the rope.
Ann soon realized that she was getting too far away and had
still not caught up to Flash. The horses had been penned up for
too long and were restless. Jack had no need to lure Flash away,
he thought that once he had Will under wraps Ann would be less
trouble to catch. She yelled out for Will several times, giving
Jack better direction. Ann became suspicious when she got no
reply and figured that maybe Jack was up to something. She
decided it best to go after Flash rather than run into Jack. She
changed her direction and did her best to look out for what
might be coming behind her.
Back in town, Bat and the guys worked at the set up and took a
few practice shots. It was starting to get late and thoughts of
dinner took over. Lucas and Aubry were enjoying a family dinner
at her ranch. Finally, Sam got to wondering where Will and Ann
were. He knew they were going to take the horses out, but not
for so long. Micah became immediately concerned. It was decided
that they would take a ride out along the road to see what they
could find. Bat told them that if they did not come back in half
an hour that he and William would ride out in the same direction
to join them. Lucas was too far away to be alerted at this
point. Sam told Bat that he would tie his monogrammed
handkerchief on a tree branch or fence if they went off the
Sam and Micah took off and tried to see if there were any
familiar hoof prints on the road. By this time it was a lost
cause, so many had been on the road. They went up and down the
first several miles and found nothing. They decided to go a bit
farther and Sam noticed the side road entrance that Will and Ann
had taken. There were the hoof prints with the Bard Ranch mark
on them. Sam was glad he thought of that long ago.
Sam got down and tied his handkerchief to a bush at the turn and
they rode up to find the meadow. They found the wine bottle and
other evidence that they had been on the grass as well as
further tracks leading into the woods.
Ann made her way in what she hoped would be an unexpected path.
She lost track of Flash’s hoof prints in the leaves on the
ground between the trees. All she could hope for was that she
could double back and try to help Will. She stopped by a large
rock and kept quiet, listening for signs of Will or Jack. After
a few minutes she heard footsteps in the leaves. Jack tried to
move in quietly, but it just wasn’t possible. Ann looked into
the trees and saw Jack approaching. She went quickly along an
angle through the trees and out of sight from him. He tracked
her steps to the rock and waited a few minutes to listen for
her. After a short while of looking around, he decided that he
better go back and take care of Fulton. Ann couldn’t do much
harm and Will was enough to kidnap back to camp and disrupt the
Sam and Micah dismounted near the trees and began to follow the
tracks. By this time, Bat and William were on their way. There
was still some sunlight left, but not much. Sam found where the
two horses took different directions. It was hard to want to
split up at this point. They knew that the others would be along
soon. They decided to go a short distance in both directions to
get an idea of what may be going on.
Jack got back to Will and found him near breaking free. He
untied his hands and feet and made him get on Spirit. He tied
Will’s hands to the saddle and lead them up into the mountains
towards his camp. Along the way Will kicked and prodded at
Spirit to make him give Jack a bad time. This slowed things down
to a crawl and Jack got mad.
“You better make that horse of yours behave Fulton or I’ll do
away with him and you can make it on foot. You know, I’ve had
just about enough from you as it is. I don’t know why I
shouldn’t just blast you and be done with it. They’ll never find
me. Ann is lost in the woods back there and she won’t have time
to go back for help. You’re mine convict, all mine!”
Will worked at the rope until his wrists were bloody, there just
wasn’t anything sharp that he could rub against. He was
convinced of Jack’s cowardice way before this, so he decided to
bide his time and wait for a chance to get away. Thirst set in
and Jack got out his canteen for a swig. Will looked longingly
at him so Jack eventually removed the gag, cautioning Will about
making any noise. Will drank as much as he could as Jack held
the canteen to his mouth, letting some of the water roll down
his chin and onto the ground.
Bat and William found Sam and Micah’s horses and followed them
into the woods. They hadn’t gone very far and so they formed two
teams and followed both tracks. This was not easy and the light
was fading. Ann was still hiking back in the direction of where
she thought Will might be. She heard something off in the trees
and thought it could be Flash.
Micah and Sam came upon the area where Jack and Will met. They
could see two horses had been there and signs of a struggle. It
was still very fresh and they decided to go back and get the
others so they could work in the same direction. When they met,
Bat told them that he could see where Ann must have gone off in
their direction to find Flash and that maybe one of them should
stay behind in case she came back. William agreed that he should
stay. If they didn’t return in a half hour, William was to go
back to town and get the marshal involved. The others rode off
to track Jack and Will.
“He’s got a good head start on us Sam, we better be careful as
we approach him. He can shoot down at us at any time.” Bat
warned the others.
“We got ya Bat! With two lawmen along Jack has no chance!” Micah
added. “Sam, I know you want him bad too, but let us stay in the
“I agree boy’s he’s all yours for now. But if I get my hands on
him it won’t be pretty!”
Bat took the lead and the three men followed the tracks into the
mountains. They realized that there could be several hours of a
head start and if they went too fast all they would do is give
themselves away. It wasn’t wise to overwork the horses either.
Bat had the most experience at tracking given that he was an
army scout in his early days. He found several broken branches
along the way that indicated a fresh trail. Sam reminded them to
recognize the mark left by Spirit’s shoes. Will was evidently
doing what he could to leave a track along the way.
“Look at how these hoof prints wander around too much. Will must
be teasing Spirit to make him walk funny.” Bat said.
“And here’s some spit on the ground, they can’t be too far up
ahead!” Micah replied.
“Okay men, let’s whisper from here on and keep a sharp eye up in
those rocks above us.
Jack could take Will’s antics no more. He made him take the lead
on Spirit and he kept his rifle trained on him as they went on.
After a short distance, Jack noticed something on the hoof
“Fulton, what is it with you? I can see the mark in the hoof
prints. You knew we were leaving a trail the whole time! Stop
right here. We’re going into those rocks. It will take longer,
but it’ll be harder to find the prints. Jack got down and kicked
the dirt around for a short distance back. He was satisfied that
it was enough to stall and maybe send them off into a slightly
different path. Will did his best to spit before they went on,
but what he was really hoping for was that Spirit would have to
relieve himself soon. Will asked Jack if he could have some more
water and Jack told him to wait until they got up ahead. In a
matter of minutes Jack could hear the lawmen’s horses as they
approached the place where he messed up the tracks. He got down
from his horse and made Will do the same, retying his hands once
he was down. They had a better chance if they stayed low. Will
took this opportunity to slip and fall, kicking some rocks
downhill at the same time. Bat and Micah saw this right away.
They lead their horses to the inside berm of the trail along
some large boulders. Sam hung back while Bat moved slowly into
the open to hike upwards.
Jack struggled with Will to a point where he could look down and
defend his position.
He could see Bat on his way up. He told Will to keep still or
die. His desire to not hurt anyone was all but gone now. His
cowardice moved him into the lethal area of panic. He saw that
Micah had now come out to cover Bat. Time was short, he would
either have to abandon Will and run for it or shoot it out with
two tough and determined lawmen. This was much more than he
could handle in his mind. In desperation though, he decided to
take a few shots and see if he could scare them off. The terrain
was steep and rough and both men were older and in no shape to
follow him uphill for long. Bat was sure he was close and pushed
himself onwards. Micah was older and very slow, but he had his
trusty rifle ready. Sam walked around behind the boulders and
was slowly moving in from the side. Jack had no idea how many
were in the group, it was time to act. He raised his rifle and
drew aim on Bat. Bat could not see him yet and was wide open in
The first shot of Jack’s missed Bat by only inches. He had
nowhere to hide. He fell to the ground and stayed as flat as he
could. Micah let off a shot in the general direction uphill,
missing Jack but scaring his horse into running off. Will also
let go of Spirit knowing it would be best. Jack knew he was in
trouble now, he yelled out for the men to retreat or Will would
die. Bat remained still and Micah yelled back,
“It’s too late Jack, we have you covered. Killing Will won’t
“You old codgers can’t chase me!” Jack shot again towards Micah.
“Now get back!”
“You can’t run forever Jack, give up now and we’ll go easy on
you. I know you hurt inside, don’t make it worse, think of your
family!” Micah yelled.
“You’re crazy old man. My father doesn’t care what happens to
me. All he cares about is his rotten failing ranch!” Jack let
off another round towards Micah.
“We don’t want to hurt you Jack, now stop this right now!” Bat
yelled out. “I’m going to go back downhill. We won’t try to come
after you if you release Will.”
“Don’t move Masterson, I like you right where you are. Move
again and I’ll kill you!”
Time was when Bat would have gotten up shooting and put an end
to something like this. But this wasn’t one of those times.
Killing was not his desire and he was not so able to move as he
used to be. He knew he could wait Jack out and the larger group
to come with the marshal would likely scare this boy into
surrender. Jack became more nervous by the moment. He didn’t see
Sam on his way up to a point above and to the side. Micah and
Bat were not aware of his position. Jack waited for a few
minutes to think over his next move. Finally, he yelled out.
“Okay Masterson, I’m going to let you go back. If you try
anything at all, I’m going to kill Fulton. If I can see that you
are going to let me go, you can come up here and have Fulton
after I’m gone.”
Bat didn’t know to trust this offer. He moved his hand with the
pistol down to his side. Jack let off another round just off to
the same side. “Leave the gun where it is Masterson. I got
plenty of ammo up here. Nobody gets to me, understand?”
“Yes, Jack, that I do.” Bat let go of the gun and gently slid
backwards. He finally reached a point where he would have to sit
up to go any further. Jack was very nervous as he watched him
move. Just as Bat stood up at the bottom of the incline Jack
heard a rock break loose off to his side. He whipped around to
see Sam above him to his left.
“I told you guys not to try anything!” Jack whirled around to
shoot Will. As he got to a point to do so a shot rang out and
the rifle flew out of Jack’s hands. Jack made a move to get back
to the rifle and another shot came out of nowhere to hit it
again. Sam was in shock. He hadn’t fired a round. Bat had no gun
and Micah was behind the boulders.
Jack dropped to the ground and tried to crawl towards his rifle.
Will kicked at him but couldn’t get close enough. Jack was just
about to reach his rifle and a third shot hit his right hand,
splitting it between the first and second fingers. Jack jerked
back his mangled hand and screamed in pain. A fourth shot hit
the rifle again, sending it out of anyone’s reach. Sam looked in
the direction of the shots but couldn’t see a thing. Bat heard
Will yell out that Jack was hurt. Jack hadn’t yet thought about
the pistol on his hip, he was too busy screaming in pain. Bat
made a move to get his pistol back and saw that there would be
no return fire. Micah stepped out to keep him covered as Bat
made it to the top where the two men were on the ground. Jack
was in no shape to shoot it out with anyone. Bat took his pistol
and untied Will.
“That was a close one young Fulton, and as for you Jack, I feel
as though you have a lot more embarrassing days ahead. It’s a
good thing I didn’t have to spend more than this afternoon
hunting you down. But I’ll be damned if I know who fired those
“I’m sure glad someone did!” Will replied. “That was some
amazing shooting, whoever it was.” Will whistled and Spirit came
trotting back. Bat got Jack to his feet and they all walked to
where Micah was. When they returned there was a few minutes to
wait for Sam to return from his perch. Will was very mad and
wanted a piece of Jack. Bat held him back and Micah wrapped a
cloth from his shirt around his hand.
“Well, I’d say it’s a good thing that Lucas wasn’t here. I don’t
think he’d be as understanding as the rest of us. But I wouldn’t
be surprised if it was him that fired those shots.” Micah
declared. “If it wasn’t Brighton then I don’t know any others
who could pull that kind of stunt!”
“I have not a clue Gentlemen. It must have been raining lead
from heaven!” Bat replied.
“I’ll tell ya who it was. There could have only been one angel
with a rifle!” Will nodded behind the men as Sam came around the
boulders with a smirk on his face.
“Wasn’t me, I was frozen in my tracks.” Sam couldn’t contain the
smile on his face as from behind came the angel.
“I told you not to make me mad Jack! You know what happens when
you make me mad, don’t you!” Ann sauntered up to Jack and rubbed
her knee along his leg. While he was watching her every move
with great concern, hand throbbing and still bleeding, she
motioned as if to kick and Jack flinched waving his hands
wildly, screaming in pain once again.
This brought on a great round of laughter, except for Ann, who
kept her eyes trained on Jack the entire time.
“I’ve never seen such an evil eye from an angelic face.” Bat
broke the silence once the laughter ceased. “Let us laugh no
more at this poor soul. He’ll suffer enough where he’s headed.
Now, who was it that likes to use the word, Convict?”
Ann and Will embraced as never before. It was finally over and
they could feel the release. “That’s my gal, the sharpshooter!”
Will said as he let go from the kiss.
“You mean my little girl!” Sam added.
“Whoever she belongs to, she’s one hell of a shot!” Micah said.
“But I wager Jack here has a few choice words to describe her,
especially her knee!”
They couldn’t help but laugh again. As they rode down the
hillside and into the meadow, they were greeted by Brighton who
just returned with the marshal and three deputies. They
questioned Jack and took him into custody. Two deputies were
sent to find Jack’s camp and rescue his second horse. Jack was
taken to a doctor to have his hand sewn back together. It was
going to be a long time before he saw the likes of North Fork
again. He was going to have plenty of bricks to make.
Battle Within A Young Gun - Chapter
24 — The Show Must Go On
This is a story based on the TV
series The Rifleman
Here are some other great stories. Enjoy!
around The McCain Ranch